The weakest element of the critique is the recommendation that Doing Business should not be used to rank countries, and that neither the Bank nor donors should use it as an assessment. Aldo Caliari, a director at the Center of Concern, one of the signatories of the joint submission to the review panel, called the information provided by Doing Business rankings "illusory" during a discussion at the World Bank's Spring Meeting.
But what is supposed to be the alternative to providing the public, policymakers, and donors with this metric however imperfect it may be? Unless we have a superior way of measuring the quality of business environment, ignoring the information contained in the Doing Business rankings hardly seems like sound advice.
And that seems to be the core of the problem with ongoing discussions about the Doing Business project. It is true that Doing Business is not an ideal metric of business environment: Nothing is. Yet over the past decade the survey has proven an extremely useful tool both for scholars and businesspeople who want to compare the ease of actually conducting business in different countries, and for policymakers trying to foster the development of the private sector. Unless someone comes up with a better alternative, discarding or watering down this metric is likely to lead to less well-informed choices about policy.
We may disagree about the relative importance of a good business environment for poor countries. Yet few would suggest that it should be simply ignored. It's difficult to avoid the impression that Doing Business is currently coming under attack by groups with ulterior motives, groups who are inimical to a pro-market and pro-growth policy agenda. Given the extraordinary economic and human progress achieved in the last few decades through deliberate improvements to business environment, one hopes that the Doing Business project remains central to the World Bank's portfolio of activities.